“Not only are most people missing out on the age-old pleasures of eating real, fresh foods grown and prepared in the context of community, but as a species we are burning fossil fuels at rapidly increasing rates, and releasing ever more carbon gases into the atmosphere… Strong local food systems are essential for environmental sustainability, food security, social equity, and the economic vitality of thriving communities.”
Jessica Prentice, founder of the term ‘locavore’, OUPblog.
As the public becomes more and more concerned with the effects of global warming, people are finding news ways to do their bit for the planet. From buying rain water tanks to making the switch to solar energy, there are many ways to help. Ethical eating is one such way, and the new term is Locavore, named 2007 Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Locavore, meaning someone who only eats food produced or grown within a 100-mile radius, was introduced in 2005 by four women in San Francisco. Since then the ‘eat-local’ food movement has spread through America, and even reached the shores of Australia. Others such as The One Hundred Mile Diet spring from Canada and some Britain supermarkets even label food miles on their products. Food miles are the distance a product has been transported to reach a buyer - less food miles = less CO2 emissions from transportation. Shopping at local food markets and stalls are a good way to be sure your food comes from close by.
In a recent article published by US online magazine, Mother Jones, Barbara Kingsolver discusses the politics behind the decisions people make in the supermarket, that she learnt as her family tried eating local for one year.
Kingsolver details her hardships at growing and storing her own produce from the family veggie garden and then goes on to compare the problems encountered by the actual farmers in her region.
“Supermarkets only accept properly packaged, coded, and labeled produce that conforms to certain standards of color, size, and shape… [But] it takes as much work to grow a crooked vegetable as a straight one, and the nutritional properties are identical.”
These standards cause many edible but not aesthetically pleasing vegetables to be rejected and place increasing strain on struggling farmers.
“Poverty and hunger are not abstractions in our part of the world; throwing away mountains of good food makes no sense. “
Perhaps the biggest strain on our farmers is when we choose to buy produce that has come from overseas, instead of the locally grown alternatives. And this is where eating local comes in. By supporting local produce we ensure our farmers a more promising future and help reduce the effects of global warming through food miles.
So next time your at the supermarket spare a thought for the planet and the Aussie farmers who grew the $2.99kg oranges instead of the cheaper, imported ones in your trolley.